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Upper Hawksbill Trail is a 2.2 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Syria, Virginia that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, and bird watching and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length 2.2 mi Elevation gain 488 ft Route type Out & Back

Dogs on leash

Kid friendly

Hiking

Bird watching

Running

Forest

Views

Wildlife

Rocky

Description
Waypoints (0)
Facilities
Contact
Getting There

The Upper Hawksbill Trail is the easiest route to the summit of Hawksbill, which is the tallest mountain in Shenandoah National Park. From the parking lot, begin hiking from the Upper Hawksbill Trailhead. Like all park trails, the trail has blue blazes. The lower portion of the trail is very wide and well maintained and follows a gradual slope that makes for relatively easy hiking. The trail is heavily wooded, so no views are available, but wildlife sightings are possible. About three-fourths of the way up, the trail levels off and turns northwest for a few hundred yards. The trail actually goes slightly downhill before intersecting the Hawksbill fire road. Turn right on fire road, which heads northeast to the summit. The park fire road is steeper and rockier than the rest of the trail, so the hiking is more difficult. The first sign that you have reached the summit is a Byrd's Nest shelter. From the Byrd's nest, follow the signs to the summit, which has a stone observation platform. The views from the summit are well worth the hike, and include commanding views of Betty's Rock to the northeast, Old Rag Mountain to the east, and the Shenandoah Valley to the west. One could easily spend thirty to sixty minutes at the summit, so allow time to enjoy the view. To return to the parking lot, retrace your steps.

Parking is available at the trailhead. Skyland Lodge, which has restrooms and a restaurant, is about two miles north of the trailhead on Skyline Drive. The Byrd Visitor Center, which has restrooms, is about five miles south on Skyline Drive. A Wayside camp store with a snack bar is adjacent to the visitor center.

Park Information: 540-999-3500

Enter Shenandoah National Park at the Thornton Gap entrance from U.S. 211. Turn right on Skyline drive, and follow Skyline Drive to the Upper Hawksbill parking area, which is about 3/4 mile past Mile Post 46.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (480)
Photos (701)
Recordings (409)
Completed (912)
Julie Hadland
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HikingGreat!

Nice slow incline to the summit and nice descent. Would highly recommend . View from the summit is absolutely breath taking!

Varm .
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 9, 2020

Hiked this today, and used the record feature of All Trails for the first time. We planned to hike Hawksbill Gap to the summit and come back via Salamander, but we took a wrong turn and ended up descending to Upper Hawksbill parking area...as you will see from the recording... Had to hike back up towards the summit and then pick up the Salamander..eventually returning to the Hawksbill Gap parking area. This Turned our 2.6 miler into a 5 miler, and we ended up completing the summit twice, plus Upper Hawksbill, and the Hawksbill Gap / Salamander loop. All in all, it was well worth the extra hiking, and now I know that All Trails pro warns you when you go off your original planned trail... trouble is, I ignored the warnings....thinking they were text messages...LOL. Spectacular views from the Summit, and equally nice ones from other vantage points along the way...ate our lunch at one of these points, and spent a good while hanging out there while enjoying views over to Stoney Man and the Shenandoah valley. We started at 9:39am, completing our 5 mile rather circuitous hike at 1:00pm Parking lot was medium busy when we began, but packed when we returned...see pics.... People using Cedar Run also park here, which is why it gets so packed. On all three trails, we passed a reasonable amount of people and the summit had about a dozen folks there. Salamander has a nice rock scramble. No bears or snakes, just a few pesky flies, but all in all a wonderful hike today. I reccomend taking the summit trail first, then walk the back side of the mountain on the Salamander for the descent.

Andra Vercauteren
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BugsMuddy
Carolyn Outside
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HikingRocky

Second time doing this trail after a visit 3 years ago. The climb is worth the view!I’d recommend this is a first hike to Shenandoah since there is a horizon market at the top which situates you to the horizon.

View Carolyn's Recording
Zachary Atkins
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Hiking

Uphill at first pretty easy trail got up there in about 25 minutes was pouring down rain so didn’t see much of a view still a pleasant hike though!

View Zachary's Recording
Doc Zinn
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HikingRocky

Short but sweet view

View Doc's Recording
Isabel Day
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HikingRocky
Joel Harrison
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Hiking

Great hike to gain a beautiful view. I went at around 6:15am and only saw three other people at the summit.

View Joel's Recording
John Maggioncalda
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Rocky

2 sections are a bit steep. little kids might struggle. Great views at top. Nice shade along entire route.

Madeline Ray
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HikingRocky
View Madeline's Recording
Aileen Holmes
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HikingRocky
Lucas Melo
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HikingBugsMuddyRocky

Easy to get lost. We did it clockwise taking the fast elevation gain first, coming down there was a section that has a small trail going off to the left, we decided to stay on the main trail and that’s where we got lost. It was an easy recovery but something that can be avoided so pay attention. It was also super foggy and we couldn’t see anything from the top. Overall cool quick hike.

View Lucas's Recording
Sara Noelle
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HikingRocky

a little bit rocky and some decent incline portions, but super short hike with great rewards at the summit! beautiful views even on a cloudy day. allow for time to chill at the top and move around a bit before heading back down.

Rezel Santos-McNeese
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Hiking

This is a relatively easy hike and the view from the summit is amazing.

View Rezel's Recording
Carol Hagan
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Hiking

Whew! This trail was a work out. It’s a bit of a climb for a portion of it. The trees make it nice and shady, so even on a 90 degree day, it was cool. The view at the summit is amazing. There’s a shelter towards the top to sit and eat. My six year old daughter did the climb with me and managed pretty well.

View Carol's Recording
Mattea P
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Hiking

Quick and relatively flat trail. Took our time going up and took less than 30 minutes to reach the peak. Awesome views!

Rob Krumwiede
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Short and not too difficult up to an incredible summit (highest point in Shenandoah) with a great view!

Matt James
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Hiking

Some incline but otherwise not too difficult. The trail is wooded but that’s about it as far as sights until the end where you get an excellent view at the top.

Ashley-Morgan Gillette
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HikingRocky
View Ashley-Morgan's Recording
Nicole McCroddan
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Rocky
View Nicole's Recording
Heather McManamay
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Hiking

A nice cool, sunny day for a short hike. A lot of people and their pups.

View Heather's Recording
Adam Schwenk
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Hiking

Trail is uphill but easy. Views are great.

Elizabeth Woodard
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFebruary 18, 2020
Hiking

A short hike with great views. Can be a little muddy in places but overall in great condition.

Park Wanderers
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HikingMuddy

While Hawksbill Trail leads you to the highest summit in Shenandoah National Park, the trail itself is very sub par. The trail is mostly a fire road covered in gravel. The trail is definitely moderate, as there are sections of heavy incline. Unlike other SNP trails I've completed, there was not much to see on the way up. Once at the summit, there are multiple places for you to climb out on the rocks, however it's a super popular hike and the summit will be crowded! If it's your first time visiting SNP or only have a day for a hike, this is not worth it.

View Park's Recording
Matthew K
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HikingIcy
View Matthew's Recording
Maryellen W
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Hiking

Added an extra trail or 2 and made my own loop. Nice all around hike!

View Maryellen's Recording
Elizabeth Hinson
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HikingRocky
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